NSW Waratahs were left to rue what could have been after threatening a major boilover in what became a 48-21 victory for the Blues in their Super Rugby Trans-Tasman clash in Auckland.
The hosts had thumped the Melbourne Rebels last week and were $1.01 favourites with bookies to beat the winless Waratahs, who have now lost a franchise-record 10 consecutive games this season.
But the Blues were feeling the pinch at Eden Park on Saturday, frantically defending their line with just a 22-14 lead early in the second half.
In a turning-point moment, Will Harris's popped pass from a set play off a close-range scrum went straight to Blues halfback Finlay Christie.
A risky short pass from an ensuing line-out then backfired, the Blues winning the penalty and soon after centre Rieko Ioane was running away from a scattered Waratahs defence to settle some nerves.
Prop Harry Johnson-Holmes was then yellow-carded as the Waratahs tried to slow another Blues charge, a penalty-try then awarded when they collapsed a scrum to effectively ice the contest. "That was a doozy man ... they fought back and we were in a bit of a dog fight." Blues captain Tom Robinson said.
"We can't just come out and think it's going to happen after last week's performance (against the Rebels) and I don't think we quite earnt it until that second half."
The Waratahs also lost Lalakai Foketi (head knock) and Charlie Gamble (ankle) to injury as their losing streak this season hit double figures ahead of a Wollongong clash with NZ champions the Crusaders next weekend.
"It's been the story of the year; put ourselves in good positions and we had the Blues stretched," Waratahs skipper Jake Gordon said.
"But errors around the breakdown, loose ball (hurt us) and they do a great job off turnovers."
The loss followed a 5-0 sweep by New Zealand sides in last weekend's opening round and losses to both the Melbourne Rebels and Western Force on Friday night.
The Waratahs were impatient with ball in hand in the first half, too, let off the hook by some sloppy work from the hosts as Angus Bell barged over and then halfback Gordon swooped to intercept and make it a 15-14 game.
Gordon was looming as the Waratahs' game-breaker before their missed chances early in the second half, while Bell was dominant and Gamble proved a nuisance at the breakdown.
Constant turnovers meant points kept flowing for the Blues, who host the Brumbies next week, despite some untidy play.
Winger Bryce Heem impressed for the Blues with a hat-trick of tries and another strong run to set up Robinson.
Dave Porecki crossed for the Waratahs once the game was already decided, while Jack Whetton was denied a try when he fielded debutant James Turner's chip kick but had the ball knocked from his grasp as he dived for the line.